Woody Harrelson isn’t shy to discuss his rebellious past.
“I’ve been busted a few times,” the 55-year-old actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “My first arrest, the police were really brutal. I was 20 or 21, and I was jaywalking, me and a friend, and this cop flags us over, asks to see our ID. My friend showed his ID, but I said, ‘I don’t have my ID,’ which I did, of course. And he says, ‘Have you been out to some of these bars? Then you have an ID to get in.’ I go, ‘Oh, good point.’ So I pulled it out, and as I pull it out, he goes, ‘Don’t lie to me again, punk!’ And then he grabbed me, smashed me against the wall a couple of times.”
That’s when things escalated between Harrelson and the police officer.
“I knocked his hands off, pushed him away and started running,” he recalled. “And that was the beginning of a real dire episode. He put out an officer-in-distress signal, and soon I’m just surrounded by blue, and they had me down on the ground, knee in my throat. It was so brutal, the way they were handling me.”
But even when Harrelson was handcuffed and put in a police van, he escaped when they stopped to pick up someone urinating on the street.
“I’m handcuffed, and I’m wearing boots, and I’m running,” he recalled. “But I was a runner — I did track and stuff. I was running as fast as I could across the parking lot. And I can hear them all shouting and running after me, and there is a car going across this parking lot. I hit the car, did a complete flip, landed on the back of my head, kept rolling, and then kept rolling, and then they were on me and they maced the f—k out of me. And when they mace you, you’re done, that’s the end of the story. So yeah, I went to jail, they rough you up a little more, and before it was over, they had six counts against me. My mom came and got me the next day. That was brutal.”
Harrelson claimed the incident had a long-term impact on him, both physical and personally. He said the mace caused him to wear sunglasses for a long time and his skin became “swollen and really nasty.” And Harrelson, who was actually considering a career in law enforcement, gave up that dream for acting instead.
Harrelson found himself in trouble again years later, but not with police. He told the publication that back in 2002, he was involved in a drunken foursome in London while married to Laura Louie. He said the incident appeared in News of the World.
Harrelson married Louie in 2008 and they share three daughters.
“I’m not sure how Laura found out, but she did,” he said. “I was kind of hoping she wouldn’t see it. I can’t remember the details; I’ve doubtless repressed it. She never saw the thing. But someone told her. Laura — this really gives you a sense of the depth of her compassion — what she said to me after finding out was, ‘That must be really hard for you, to have this s—t exposed.’ She just said that. Now that doesn’t mean she wasn’t upset. How did I apologize? You know, just your standard Texan grovel. But she forgave me and we’re still together.”